The Legend Behind Teste-Di-Moro

The art of Majolica pottery was brought to Sicily by the Arabs who taught Sicilians how to create these wonderful pieces of art.

In the thirteenth century, the Spaniards of Aragon were the first to refer to these colored Sicilian ceramic objects as “majolica”, because the firing and glazing techniques used to create these pieces were similar to those used in the Balearic Islands of Majorca.

Many different types of painted ceramics are distinguished by their color patterns, their shape, and the motifs painted on them, but, without a doubt, the most popular and fascinating ceramic objects, are the Moorish Heads or Teste di Moro.

The legend of the Moorish head goes back to the XI century, during the Moors dominance in Sicily and, as in most legends, love is the culprit. 

Walking through the many narrow streets of Taormina, you may end up in Via Degli Artisti, an incredibly beautiful street embellished by Sicilian Majolica ceramics designed by local artists. Adorning this street, you will find beautiful ceramic pots, shaped as heads, where blooming plants grow inside. These are the Teste di Moro. 

One day, a beautiful young girl, living in the Kalsa, the Arabic district of Palermo, was taking care of the flowers on her balcony. Suddenly, a Moor merchant who happened to be passing by saw her. Their eyes met and they fell in love. 

They had a wonderful romance until the beautiful girl discovered the love of her life was already married with children, waiting for him in his native land. This enraged her with jealousy. Her desire to never let him leave, caused her to go crazy.

One night, while the merchant was sleeping, she killed him, cut off his head, and used it as a flowerpot, for her beautiful basil plant. 

People walking down the street, under her balcony, jealously marveled at her flourishing basil plant. In fact, they became so intoxicated with the fertility of her potted head, they began imitating the shape, molding colorful clay pots in the shape of a head, hoping to reproduce the same results, which inspired the art of Teste di Moro.

Today, there are several varieties of ceramic heads, but the traditional pots depict a Moorish man and a beautiful girl.

True or not, romantic or creepy, the legend of this Sicilian ceramic art, is now, world-renowned, thanks to Dolce & Gabbana, who often use characters and items of traditional Sicilian folklore, in their designs. In fact, they launched a collection inspired by this legend.

2 products
  • Sicilian “TESTE DI MORO” & Buffalo Horn Coral Style Lacquered Earrings
    Sicilian “TESTE DI MORO” & Buffalo Horn Coral Style Lacquered Earrings - DIDAJ
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  • Italian Turquoise & Sicilian Teste Di Moro Ceramic Earrings
    Italian Turquoise & Sicilian Teste Di Moro Ceramic Earrings - DIDAJ
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